Steve Chatterton
Will Write for Food

Day 5: 921 Words!

April 24th, 2015 by Steve

book-spines

Another day, another 921 words, another moment singing the praises of Chuck Wendig’s slow but steady wins the race philosophy.

So, after five days I’m up to a total wordcount of 3,674. The weekly goal is 1,750 (350 words per day). So I’m averaging 734 words every day. Not bad, not bad. I’m going 80% beyond the threshold, as it were, but I’m also stupid excited about this whole thing, as you might have guessed. If I keep going at this rate I’ll have my 91k in less than 25 weeks (if I’m doing the math right, which I very well may not be).

The last two days have been uber-productive. If you’ve got cops in your story, make them interview people. Nothing ups a wordcount like talking to the police. Give it a shot.

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Working Faster in Scrivener with Auto-Complete List

April 23rd, 2015 by Steve

auto-complete

So, you’re writing a novel, and you’ve foolishly chosen to name a character something like ‘DeGraaf’. All left-hand typing, two capitals. What a pain in the butt. Why, why would you do that? You’re going to have to re-type that name about four thousand times over the next hundred thousand words.

Well, fear not! You can always program macros into Microsoft Office so you can type shorthand into Word and it’ll automatically replace it for you.

But wait, you’re working in Scrivener? Me too! Here’s what you do now that macros aren’t an option. It’s a little thing called the Auto-Complete List.

You’ll find the Auto-Complete List in the menus by going Project -> Auto-Complete List, or by the handy dandy keyboard shortcut ctrl+shift+4. Then you’ll see the little pop-up menu in the pic above. Hit that plus button and you’ll get to put in a new word or phrase you find yourself retyping far too often, like ‘Auto-Complete List’, for instance.

Then go to Tools -> Options (or shortcut F12) and click on the Corrections icon. Make sure the Word Auto-Complete ‘Suggest completions as you type’ box is ticked, and untick the ‘In script mode only’ box (unless you’re working exclusively on scripts, I guess).

Then, start typing away. When you come to the word you need a shortcut for, type the first letter. If you only have one word on the Auto-Complete List that starts with that letter, you’ll see a little pop-up box with only that word in it. Hit enter and Scrivener finishes the word for you.

If you have more than one word, the pop-up box will have all those words listed in alphabetical order. You can use the arrow buttons to go down and back up the list. Highlight the word you need and hit enter. Or, start typing more letters. The list will get smaller as you type more. Narrow the list down to the one word you need and hit enter.

Did I mention that the Auto-Complete List is project specific? That way you can tailor your list to every new piece you work on. How cool is that.

Next topic – Enabling additional substitutions to mimic the Office macros across all your projects!

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Day 4: 1,003 Words!

April 23rd, 2015 by Steve

book-spines

Oh my, I’m killing it. Run for cover and duck your heads. I’ve got blisters on my blisters, and my keyboard is literally smoking. I managed to knock out over one thousand words today. Just 47 words shy of tripling my daily target. I think I’ll put my feet up for a bit.

I think the secret to making progress is making an active effort to get control of your schedule. I used to have a whatever-will-be-will-be attitude toward writing. I thought, “When the words come, I’ll write them.” Well, that didn’t get me very far as a writer at all. So I re-prioritized my life, scrutinizing every spare minute to see where time was being wasted and where I could maybe squeeze in a few minutes bashing out the bon mots.

I found a fair bit of time where I sat around just waiting for time to pass in the morning before getting the kids off to school. But rather than force myself to write at that time, I turned it into you-don’t-get-to-sit time. In you-don’t-get-to-sit time, you don’t get to sit. Simple as that. Run through a mental list of s*** that has to be done and just do it. Dishes, laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, make lunches for the kids. All the grunt work that gets in the way of enjoying life. Get it done. And then, by 8:30 in the morning, it’s all done, and there ain’t nothing hanging over your head the rest of the day. Which means every spare moment from then on is officially yours and yours alone. Type when ready.

Another thing I found helpful was setting up a fixed me-write-now time. The name is pretty self-explanatory. That’s the time when I write. I chose 10AM. By that time, I’m back from getting the kids off to school, I’ve walked the dogs, and I’ve enjoyed second breakfast and a lovely cup of tea. I have one hour before I have to think about getting ready for work, and I’m going to use it to my advantage.

Today, work ended a little early, so I crammed in a few more minutes when I got back home. I’m a dog walker, so my schedule is usually pretty flexible. When writing opportunities present themselves, it’s time to seize them and write some more.

I’m also curious if blogging about the writing process is helping. I’ve written close to 2,800 words of my book, and blogged about 1,400 words as well. Hopefully it’s beneficial. I have a good hunch no one’s actually reading this, that I’m just babbling into the vast emptiness of space, but hopefully it helps lube up my writing brain so I can keep going strong tomorrow. If that’s true, then we’re all good.

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Day 3: 530 Words, and a Working Title!

April 22nd, 2015 by Steve

book-spines

Cold Snap. I like the sound of that. I had no idea what I was going to call this little story when I started playing with the idea about a month ago, but I’m pretty darn sure it’s going to be Cold Snap. (At least until something better comes along.)

It’s fitting for a story of a missing persons investigation set against the backdrop of suburban families falling apart in the dead of a frozen Canadian winter. Makes me want to throw another log on the fire and hitch up the sled dogs.

I got to introduce my lead detective today. She’s marvelously screwed up. Can’t wait to spend more time fleshing her out. We’ve only just peaked into her rabbit hole with hints of a recent separation where she lost custody of her kid. Whoa, how’d she manage that? I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out soon enough. Or torpedo the whole book trying.

See? Writing is thrilling. High stakes, devil-may-care shenanigans. I should’ve started this decades ago.

I just took a quick gander at my word count, and I’m sitting at exactly 1,750 words. That’s the equivalent of a solid week’s work in Chuck Wendig’s No-****ery One-Year Novel Writing Plan, and I’m only three days in. I’m 1/52nds of my way through!

Now the mind is thinking crazy things again. If you can do five days’ work in three, it says, then you can do 260 days’ work in 156 days. That’s a finished first draft in a little over 30 weeks. Right? 22 if you can squeeze in seven days a week. Right? Right?

Well, probably not. This is probably the giddy joy of starting something new, which will soon turn into the harsh reality of learning just how hard writing a full-length novel can be. But what the hey. Progress is progress, and today I’m a happy man.

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Day 2: 630 Words

April 21st, 2015 by Steve

book-spines

Day 2. I did 630 glorious little words this morning. Admittedly, some of them stink, but we’ll fix that later. Maybe not as much later as originally anticipated if I keep going at this rate. Remember, the goal is 350 words a day. My two-day total now is 1,212 words – well above my 700 word total word target – which averages out just over 600 words a day. I doubt I’ll be able to keep it that high though. For now, I think of it as banking words, to help cover those days where life just gets too hectic to spend any time writing. It happens.

I’ve got to avoid fantasies of keeping up 600 words a day, which invariably lead to playing with the calculator, figuring out that that’ll give me 90,000 words in as little as 150 days, leading to delusions that if I can start cramming in writing sessions everyday including weekends I can have my masterpiece hunk-of-junk first draft completed in five short months. Before the Autumnal Equinox! That sounds nice. Not likely to happen, but hoo lordy it sounds nice.

What’s the secret? Well, this morning’s little tip is: Get Your A** Out of Bed!

I realized at 5:30 I was wide awake and teeming with words, so I got up, did my business, and started writing. It’s 6:42 now. Wrote for an hour, started writing about writing. That’s all folks.

What’s on the agenda for the rest of the day? Well, I found some more great articles on the Terrible Minds site I want to examine some more, all on character development:

I just want to make sure I’ve got my cast up to snuff before I get too carried away making them jump through hoops. If you don’t care why they have to jump, then I’m just wasting my time, so a little time fleshing them out is probably required, just to play it safe.

If you haven’t checked out Terrible Minds yet, it’s my favourite writing blog evers. The blogger (Chuck Wendig) is actually a well-respected, published author and he gives great advice. And he recently got to have dinner with Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman, so that’s just awesome-pants in my book.

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